Spencer's successor: Top 5 candidates for Portland job

Bob Bradley

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So who do the Timbers turn to next?

Eric Wynalda has just landed at the Atlanta Silverbacks, where he was recently hired as interim coach and advisor. Gregg Berhalter is not about to abandon Hammarby in Sweden, where he's in his first year. It's tough to see Portland going the Peter Nowak route given how the Philadelphia Union chapter just ended. And Steve Nicol would likely be seen as an older version of John Spencer.

Timbers owner Merritt Paulson said during the press conference announcing Spencer's dismissal that the club has a list of 10 potential candidates and hopes to have a long-term coach by the end of 2012. One man who is not in the running according to Paulson is general manager Gavin Wilkinson, who will take the coaching reins until the end of the season.

With that landscape, here are five names that could be among the top candidates to take over in Portland.

1. Bob Bradley — The Timbers want to win now and the former US boss has done it. He may not be known for an attractive brand of soccer, but right now Portland need to build a base. Bradley's international experience in recent years would also likely unearth a foreign export or two for the club, not to mention the likes of US internationals plying their trade abroad. However, Bradley would have to entertain leaving his place at the helm of the Egyptian national team, something he may be loathe to do with World Cup Qualifying on the horizon.

2. Carl Robinson — In his first year as an assistant in Vancouver, the former Welsh international has commanded respect in every locker room he has been part of as a player. He has UEFA licenses, strong international contacts and a charisma that would be infectious in Portland.

3. Tab Ramos — Would make for an intriguing selection if they can pry him away from the US Under-20 program. He has worked his way up from an academy team coach in New Jersey to a position in the national team system. If his coaching philosophy is half as entertaining as his playing style, he has the potential to be a hit. And the Spanish-language skills don't hurt.

4. Caleb Porter — Much has been made of his 10-year contract with Akron, but the former US Olympic coach couldn't pick a better organization to jump to from the college ranks. The ownership support, the home-field advantage, the new training facility and the presence of his ex-Akron star, Darlington Nagbe, form a package that is difficult to turn down.

5. Octavio Zambrano — The Ecuadorean was the architect of one of the most entertaining teams in MLS history when he was at the helm of the MetroStars in the early 2000s. He was also an assistant in Kansas City as recently as last year. That MLS experience and his most recent stint at the helm of Deportivo Pereira in Colombia, where he currently serves as head coach, make for a rare combination of expertise.